31 May 2013

Reflections on the 15th Congress Campaign from UP ETC

Arjay Mercado: As a member of the Executive Committee of UP Economics Towards Consciousness (UP ETC) for three years, I can definitely say that the organization has transcended to a lot of new heights. From mainly focusing on raising people's consciousness, the organization managed to be involved in campaigns for progressive legislations. One of which is being an active part of the Freedom of Information Youth Initiative (FYI).

Arjay (second from left) with other leaders of the
Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition.
Being a signatory to the manifesto of FYI, I personally experienced campaigning for the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill. I'll never forget inviting Rep. Erin TaƱada to go to a UP dormitory and discuss the bill's relevance to the youth. Renting three Ikot Jeepneys with the initiative's logo and statement as part of UP ETC's anniversary was really something new for our organization as well. 

I'm definitely proud that we even joined other progressive groups in marching in the streets to stress how important it is for the country. However, the most memorable experience for me was to represent the youth sector in a dialogue with one of the President’s Undersecretaries.  At that point, I realized how important the perspective of the youth is when it comes to this campaign.  

Sadly, we have yet to witness the passage of this important bill as some so-called "representatives" delayed important legislation. Now that I'm part of the University Student Council, I'll do my best to help more in propagating for the passage of the bill. At the end of the day, the voice of the youth is definitely an important factor to win this battle for a more transparent and accountable government. This time, we won't settle for anything less.

AJ at the January mobilization for FOI.
AJ Montesa: When I first got into UP, I never really believed in rallying or marching and shouting in the streets. I felt this even more so as I had grown to explore other forms of activism. However, there are issues whose importance cannot delivered without a shout, without a sense of urgency. The Freedom of Information Law is decades overdue. Any government that promises true democracy, citizen participation, and full transparency cannot fulfill those without an FOI measure. It is quite ironic then that an Administration that has promised an anti-corruption stance cannot seem to understand the urgency and prioritize this measure. But we from the Youth now see this and respond.

It was a great experience for me to show our support for the passage of this crucial measure by being a part of the various groups that marched to Mendiola and voiced our need for this bill to be made priority. When bills like the RH and Sin Tax have become law, it is crucial that this progressive law is passed in order realize our full rights as citizens. It is our right to know; we need it right now!

Anne (third from left) with fellow FYI members
and Malou Mangahas of the PCIJ.
Anne Trajano: Calling the offices of Representatives. Walking on the streets to Mendiola for the first time. Giving out flyers of my organization's stand. Sharing materials online. All these I experienced because of the need to pass a bill. All these I experienced with the youth who have the same advocacy as I have. It is fulfilling for I know the efforts were worth giving. And I want to be fulfilled more-- only when the bill is already passed. Tuloy ang laban para sa FOI, para sa bayan. 

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